Squad split as Stags players battle it out in friendlies double

Mansfield Town vs Middlesborough - Steve Evans - Pic By James Williamson
Mansfield Town vs Middlesborough - Steve Evans - Pic By James Williamson
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Mansfield Town’s full first team squad will continue to stake their claims for a starting place at Crewe when they are split in half for friendly games at Matlock Town and Gainsborough Trinity tomorrow night (Tuesday, both 7.30 kick-offs).

With only one full first team pre-season fixture still to go after them at Alfreton on Saturday, competition will be high to make the starting line-up on 5th August.

“It will be principally the first team playing at both grounds and hopefully we can get 90 minutes into as many players as possible,” said manager Steve Evans.

“There will be two first team coaches leaving here which I think will be a first for the Stags. They will both be leaving at the same time, one turning left and one turning right!

“It is two XIs that will represent the first team squad and you will have three or four U21s backing the team up.

“If we need to make a change through injury or fatigue then the youngsters will be there to back it up. But primarily we want as many to get 90 minutes as possible.”

Evans and assistant Paul Raynor now need to decide how to police the games between them.

“We may go to separate games or do the same one and involve the likes of Mike Whitlow and Richard Cooper, who are good guys and who we work very closely with,” he said.

“We will sit down as a staff, pick two teams, two squads, the U21 players.

“Richard Cooper has already given me a run-down on his opinions on those and he sees them every day. So that’s whose opinions we are going to be led by.”

Despite an encouraging first half, the Stags eventually went down 4-0 at home to Championship neighbours Nottingham Forest last Saturday.

But Evans believes that result will make sure there is no complacency.

“I was really pleased with the first half – you couldn’t fault the performance,” he said.

“Based on chances we should have probably turned 4-2 ahead.

“They missed a good chance with a header but equally we missed three or four good chances – better than half chances. So I’m really pleased with that.

“Second half, without doubt, there were too many players on there who were feeling a little bit leggy and a little bit tired.

“And you have to give full credit to Nottingham Forest, who on the hour mark replaced quality with real quality and you are going to pay a price when you stand off and let a team like that play.

“Once again we learned lots as we did against Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday. When you lose like that you learn more and you learn more about the individuals.

“That will stand us in good stead going forward for sure.

“I have never had a pre-season programme where it’s all been sweetness and light. I’ve always had a game in there that gives everyone a little reality check and a ‘let’s not get complacent’ statement beside it.”